Monday, 31 December 2012

The ICCO Alliance Learning Blog was set up in 2007 in the context of the ComPart project, an initiative of the ICCO Alliance to enable more effective knowledge sharing and exchange amongst alliance members' staff and partners.

With the conclusion of the project, the blog remains accessible online for reference and archiving purposes.

Please visit ICCO website to access the latest information on ICCO projects and programmes.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Action Researchers Programmatic Approach and Internet

The coming months a group of five young professionals is going to do action research on the programmatic approach of the ICCO Alliance in 5 different regions. This research process intends to get an insight whether the programmatic approach is fulfilling the expectations and then especially as seen from the perspective of the actors involved in the programmatic cooperation processes. The programmes the group of researchers will work are:
  • The youth and security programme in Central America
  • The local market development programme in Peru (organic production)
  • The food and nutrition security programme in Nepal
  • The local market development programme in Burkina Faso (shea butter)
  • The food and nutrition security programme in Madagascar
During these first weeks of their assignment the young professionals are involved in an intensive preparation phase at the ICCO global office in Utrecht. Beginning of February 2012 they all will start their work in the regions.I had the pleasure to work with this groups of young researchers last week.

We had a very nice day in which we discussed and experimented with a whole range of web based tools which could be of use for their communication, exchanges and documentation of their researches.
We started with the question “What role will the Internet probably have in your work?”. It became clear that they all expect to use the internet for communication with the partners they are going to work with bacause of geographical distances, but also to communicate among themselves, with the ICCO Global office and of course with their friends and families.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Usage of digital tools in ICCO - Stats 2011

In January 2012, while planning the activities for the first quarter of the year, we also took a look back at 2011 to complete our progress report and see what has been the overall usage of various digital tools over the past year.

The last interim report showed a mixed picture. By the end of the 2011, some trends are confirmed. The total number of pageviews on the ComPart Network on PBworks dropped from 90k in 2010 to 55k in 2011. This clearly reflects the decreased support at the organisational level for this technological solution. However, as also confirmed by the increased number of visits, some ICCO Alliance staff are still very much using different workspaces. In particular, the Studio workspace has proved to be useful and informative space for staff to find information about learning activities and events, as well as tools and procedures. By the same token, several Learning Communities have started using wikis as the home-base and knowledge-base for their activities. Likewise, SharePeople has fully integrated PBworks in their work-processes and they use a workspace for their internal communication and collaboration.

This blog, unfortunately, recorded again a negative trend, in spite of the fact that several new posts had been published throughout the year. Hopefully the new design implemented in December, and more regular and relevant postings, will help in bringing back some users and increase the traffic back to the level of the past years.

Finally, some great news come once again by SlideShare that really proved to be a gold mine in terms of traffic - as well as, from a user point if view, being a great space to find interesting content. In 2011, the presentation uploaded on the ICCO Alliance account received a total on almost 16k views, in line with the traffic recorded in 2010. The following 3 presentations resulted the most viewed in 2011:

    Wednesday, 21 December 2011

    Setting up online learning communities is just like learning to skate inline

    This year 2011 the digital energy within the ICCO Alliance has been mostly dedicated to the setup and give life to the Learning Communities (LC’s). Several LC now have been formed around the themes the Alliance is working on together with its partners in a large number of programmes. And yes, it was confirmed again: people sometimes believe online facilitation simply happens, that it is something like breathing that everyone can do automatically. But fast skating inline down a frozen canal is a better metaphor. To skate inline you need first to learn to walk, then to skate and then skate well and finally to skate with other people. And like skating, online facilitation is best learnt with and from other people by doing it. However you always need the right weather and ice conditions to skate. Anyhow many colleagues within the Alliance have really put lots of energy and creativity in the setup and animation of their community. Need assessments have taken place, as well as discussions during face to face meetings about how to continue to deepen ideas and share experiences while working around the world. The LC’s Private Sector Cooperation, Basic Health and HIV and Food and Nutrition Security definitely have ‘taken off’.

    Lately we have been talking with a quite a number of the facilitators, which was a really motivating and inspiring round of conversations. The feedback they gave us showed that most are struggling with ‘what’ and ‘how’ they need to do to energise the communities, help them become vivid and interesting for the members. The idea now is to develop, together with all facilitators, ways of working with their communities that really aim at usefulness for all members. As it is in our DNA, we’ll be practice what we preach and have started already to discuss these issues online in the ‘facilitators’ learning community’ and we’ll deepen this conversations in a couple of online sessions which will be held beginning of 2012.

    Thursday, 13 October 2011

    First day at ICCO Introduction Training

    What is ICCO? Who do we really work for? These are the type of questions that we had in mind when we were coming to the Introduction Training. And then, we are finally here, at the Global Office and finally putting faces to some names that we have been hearing for some time now.

    This first day that we thought would be very long and maybe annoying did not go the way we
    were expecting it. We met some very nice people from around the world. We all had to present our region which gave us a chance to show some of our creativity. It also highlighted the breadth and depth of ICCO. We had a good discussion of the current funding situation and future strategies based upon unique selling points. We also discussed the future structural arrangements of the ICCO alliance and the identities of KIA and ICCO.

    The methodology of the world café made what could have been a boring set of presentations, an interactive exchange. A lot of information for the very first day, but a reflection of the passion and dedication of the ICCO global family.

    Niania Traore, Jean Vernet and Lindora Howard-Diawara

    Tuesday, 11 October 2011

    Making the Connections Day 6: Dutch Treat

    Sunday was a different Dutch treat from the Ecumenical Community of “Het Brandpunt.” At 9am, a group of volunteers drove us (in different cars to fit the 21 individuals from various regional offices) to the said community from the PKN Guesthouse, Utrecht to Amersfoort (about 1 hour drive). We got English translations (printed and verbal from our seatmates) of the Dutch church service with a wedding to boot. We were officially welcomed through morning greetings in our national languages. A woman “elder” from the community presided over the service, and a woman pastor gave the sermon and blessed the wedding couple (not a gay pair). The children even had an active part in the “mass”. The choir had an energetic conductor and the English songs were upbeat, with an electric guitar accompaniment which made me feel like dancing. We almost missed the song called “Better Together” due to a technical glitch. It’s not only a romantic song for the wedding, I thought it’s also a good reminder for advocates (watch here).

    After the ceremony, we had warm drinks (coffee and tea) while having chitchat with the community members and our individual host families for the day. I never removed my 2-layer jacket throughout the morning since the chairs felt cold on my behind (my phone apps said it was 6°C). It helped that my host family liked sweets (e.g. waffles with cherries and cream) which gave me energy until midnight. In the afternoon, I joined the 2-hour walk, laugh, reflecting in the rain with other colleagues and host families. The walk was part of the pilgrim hosted by one of the parents of the Dutch youth volunteering to Rome (during their school break) to assist the homeless and learn something invaluable in return. It was a good excuse as well as a good exercise for us beyond the conference rooms for the past week. I saw a lake full of ducks and birds I haven’t seen before. We walked through some kind of mini-forest littered with oaks, big trees and colorful plants. After which we had warm drinks and cookies to end the pilgrim in the host’s welcoming home. In between traditional Dutch food (e.g. cheese, potatoes, pudding called “bitter cookies”), our hosts also asked us about the geographic location of and weather in Manila and Bangkok. Uncannily, their daughter was like me when I was a child years ago. She has a rabbit as a pet (hers was black, I had white), and she’s allergic to milk (she was taking soya, and I grew up with soya). Her brother is part too of the volunteering youth to Rome. We had group photos to mark the different highlights of the day. Unfortunately, my host family is not into FB (facebook) but we can at least keep in touch through email and the worldwide web of volunteers.

    Romina “Beng” Sta.Clara, 9 Oct 2011

    Friday, 7 October 2011

    Day 5 Introduction Training - Friday, October 6th, 2011

    Interesting day, sessions were designed by using the World Cafè methodology.

    20 minutes in different rooms with different specialists in issues such as micro finance, liaison officers, KIA International, fundraising, communication and marketing.

    In the afternoon, it was time to learn about wikis, yammers, and blogs. The difference between the three, and the purpose of each one. The system is not perfect, but it is useful. It can be used for note taking, for agenda setting, informing about changes, and sharing institucional issues, without having to send an email.

    A relevant question is how can wikis improve my time management without being an extra burden to our heavy, office workload?

    What sort of stimulation do I get from ICCO from using these wikis?

    Wikis can be useful by the communications department in keeping us informed about changes, news, prizes, deadlines, fundraising opportunities, tools, information that the RO needs to know. The wikis could also be used so that partners can have a direct communication channel with us, and letting us know about results, sending pictures, etc.

    The idea of creating a focal point in the regions for PME is also applicable for lobbying and advocacy, private sector collaboration.

    Finally, it was clear that ICCO will start making large efforts to not only communicate more efficiently, but also it is also struggling to find new ways of doing things, and maximize funding, time and resources with the regions. It is also time to get out of any confort zone that we might be in, propose good ideas in a co-responsible way, and row hard, because the storms might come hard, and we´re all in the same boat!

    Caroline, Desta, and Gorge (Kuki).